The passing of my friend former Texas Governor Mark White allowed me to tell younger people in the media or newcomers to Texas about the core of a politician I greatly admired. He often quoted Sam Houston, “Do right and risk the consequences.” It was a code he lived and governed by. I knew that very early in knowing him, some 40 years ago, and never saw him waver.
Mark White (above) - Senior side to Mark White tells Shara Fryer that speakers at Mark White funeral on Wednesday are George W. Bush, Luci Baines Johnson (daughter of LBJ), and Shannon Ratliff (personal friend and longtime political supporter).
Working in Austin and then San Antonio, I reported on Mark White as Secretary of State, and then as Texas Attorney General. My knowledge of the person began with my brother working as an Assistant Attorney General. Then I got my own inside look in 1982, travelling with/assigned to cover the Mark White for Governor campaign for KTRK-TV in Houston.
No one thought he would win, at first, but I saw the people of Texas, from east to west, the Panhandle to the Valley, responding to his big personality, his warmth, and his sincere caring of doing what he felt was right. I respected that.
And….Governor White always respected that I had a job to do. In fact, respect was what Mark White offered to everyone…strangers and even political foes, but especially reporters who had to cover his ups and downs.
In this era of “unfriending” people, Mark White, a big “D”emocrat never did. We agreed to disagree on many things, while continuing to debate. And our friendship flourished with him, and with his love, and wife of 50 years, Linda Gale Thompson White. …through birthdays, celebrations, my own marriage to Barry (who had his own established friendship with the Whites) and the marriages of their children, births of 9 grandchildren, our mutual friends, travels and so many discussions of all things Texas.
That’s what my family will miss the most… This larger
than life Texan who never flaunted the fact or ever gave up asking about you and your concerns….not his.
As another insight to his character, Mark White made the point to attend the funerals of each of my parents in Hallettsville…slipping in very humbly, to pay respect, but not disrupt. I’m so very, very sad to be attending his funeral this week…. as my family will too…both here and in Austin. So painful, but it’s the right thing to do.
The Mark White family has established a website with more information at www.govmarkwhite.org
Former Lt Gov Ben Barnes in backgroundWith my mother (above)
At my wedding...
My brother in foreground (above)
Giving Barry marriage advice (above)